Last Saturday, I received a private message from a female reader and she presented an interesting question to me.
This discerning young lady was on the hunt for a watch which would sit well on her wrist but was resistant to one that was designed specifically for ladies; yet, she did not want something that was overly manly.
In sum, she was looking for a watch hovering in between the masculine and feminine, in hopes of striking that perfect balance if there ever was one.
Before I carry on, I would like to express my gratitude to her, because first, she appreciated the articles I’ve written so far and that’s the only thing that matters to me. Secondly, she has given me a refreshingly new topic to tackle.
Oh, and just on the fun side, after a series of message exchanges, I realized that she belongs to that rare breed who would pick a watch over a bag. Props to her on that one.
Henceforth, I’m going to make a few assumptions to justify my picks:
- Generally speaking, ladies are more open to pastel colours. Guys tend to stick to dark solids.
- Ladies like bling. All variations of precious stones are used on watches to market them to the fairer sex. This lady, however, would gladly do away with that since that would definitely be girly.
- Elegance is commonly associated with the case size – the smaller, the better – but if the watch is too small, it would be classified as a ladies watch; too big, and it ventures into men territory. In my opinion, anything between 35 to 40 mm would be fine.
While she didn’t explicitly state her budget, she made it clear that now’s not the time to splurge on a Rolex.
Bearing all these pointers in mind and the specific request of an ‘in-between’ across 2 genders, I present to you the following:
Melbourne Watch Company ‘Portsea’
The Portsea collection from the Melbourne Watch Company (MWC) came to me almost immediately. It helped a little when I found out that she had studied in Australia and would probably appreciate a watch brand originating from that country.
MWC is a relatively newcomer to the microbrand scene. Started in 2013 by Sujain Krishnan, its goal is to translate the diversity of Melbourne’s culture – from the vibrant laneway cafes to the idyllic lull of the bayside – onto watches sporting contemporary design with a dose of classic watchmaking principles.
The Portsea is an automatic watch with a ‘triple calendar’ function displaying the date at 6 o’clock, day of week at 9 o’clock and the month at 3 o’clock.
If you look closely, the dial consists of 3 distinct layers and is easily my favourite feature. At this price point, I’ll say that the Portsea has one of the best (if not the best) looking dials I’ve seen from a microbrand.
The recessed inner dial is matte and its background is reminiscent of the walls seen on seaside cottages.
Moving one level up, the 2 subdials are actually ‘suspended’ and held in place by the middle layer constructed from semi-glossy ceramic where the painted Arabic numerals reside.
A railroad track circles the upper most layer with bolded markers right on the hour to enhance legibility. MWC has executed the dial design brilliantly and the final product exudes well thought out complexity while retaining a sense of casualness.
Equipped with polished and faceted hour/minute hands, visual contrast is further amplified and the ‘alpha’ hands blend in perfectly with its slim profile and are long enough to prevent cluttered reading when they pass over either of the two subdials.
Measuring at 40 mm, it’s still a reasonable size for a lady while adding a splash of colour to men watches that are predominantly in white or black.
Movement wise, MWC uses the Japanese Miyota 9120, it is a reliable modification of the base 9015 movement to accommodate a triple calendar function. There is a quick set date aperture located on the side of the case and the pusher comes together when you purchase the watch.
The Portsea’s caseback is stamped with an exquisite carving of the seaside town for which the collection was named after.
Melbourne Watch Company only operates online at the moment and you can place a preorder for the Portsea Collection at SGD 725.86 as previous batches were sold out in double quick time.
Christopher Ward C9 Moonphase
Christopher Ward (Chr.Ward) was conceived by 3 Englishmen on a boat sailing down River Thames in 2004.
They shared a singular vision: to provide the world with premium Swiss-made timepieces paired with exquisite designs while keeping it within realistic price brackets through the omission of common overheads – print advertising, celebrity endorsement s and traditional distribution methods – faced by Swiss luxury giants.
Since then, Chr.Ward has gone on to become the first truly vertical and ‘direct to consumer’ semi-luxury watch company.
Men have always held a deep fascination for the unknown, leading them on an endless pursuit to seek answers.
One such object was the moon (we’ve been there by the way) and since a long time ago, men have devised an intricate array of gears, screws and plates in watches to track its lunar cycle, known as the ‘moonphase’ complication.
In essence, a moonphase wrist watch allows its wearer to know how the moon will look like on any given night by glancing at its profile shown on the dial. Seemingly whimsical and rightly so; its practicality today is non-existent. Rather, the moonphase speaks out to its appreciators emotionally, evoking an ancient instinct similar to that of farmers and fishermen from ages past who relied on lunar cycles for decision making.
Moonphase functions are usually presented through a tiny aperture in watches but forms the centrepiece in the Chr.Ward C9 Moonphase.
Situated in a tilted crescent occupying the upper half of the dial, it’s strikingly prominent as the moon comes in a shimmering gold or silver (ladies would like this, I guess?) colour which seems to produce its own glow.
The moon display piece is a product of 3D stamping. Set against a deep blue night sky background dotted with stars, it is a sight to behold.and captures the feel of a crater filled celestial body perfectly.
The lower portion has also been beautifully adorned with undulating curvy stripes in a guilloche pattern, representing the tides of the seas which the moon is inexplicably linked to.
The remainder of the dial has been kept conservative making it clear that the moonphase is the undeniable star of the show here. Hour markers are a mix of bone thin indexes and Roman numerals, which stretches out far enough toward the centre dial, making it look like a sun when the main dial is viewed in its entirety.
Chr.Ward has made several modifications the Swiss ETA 2836-2 movement with the addition of 2 wheels onto its existing configuration for a moonphase that’ll not need readjusting for the next 100 years once you’ve set it the first time. This is an impressive effort to mirror the level of precision found in Swiss watches.
The 40 mm case is made from brushed stainless steel with a polished crown and strap choices include a leather or bracelet option.
The Chr.Ward C9 moonphase is a watch that speaks to us our inner romances and while its design may feel more in line with jewelry rather than watches, it’s an undeniably good looking piece that’ll look just right on the wrist of an elegant gentleman or a discerning lady.
You can purchase the watch for SGD 2,215 (leather strap) or SGD 2,385 (metal bracelet) directly from Christopher Ward’s website: www.christopherward.sg
Before I proceed further, I’ll like to say that the watch I’m about to present is rather large at 46 mm. It certainly deviates from the assumption I’ve made above in regard to what constitutes as a good size on a ladies’ wrist but I just can’t help mentioning this watch.
Have a look at the Schaumburg ‘Mystic’.
This watch was designed for a man but you’d hardly be faulted for thinking otherwise considering its feminine tones.
Schaumburg Watch is a German watchmaker operating out of a village of the same name. Founded in 1998, they’ve introduced a series of watches transcending all design boundaries and pushing the limits of what makes a watch, a watch.
Most of their pieces require an acquired taste to appreciate and the Schaumburg ‘Mystic’ is no different.
On first look, you’re probably confused, much like how you would be you would be if I handed you a page of encrypted text. The conventional way we’re used to reading the time off a watch does not apply here; there are no hands.
Well, there is one actually – the red hand peeking out between 4 and 5 o’clock (on the dial itself, not referring to the usual placement on an ordinary watch. It’s confusing, I know) tells the seconds and it completes a revolution around the dial every 60 seconds, much like any other seconds hand.
The hour and minute are determined by a strip of white located above the logo which connects from the centre dial onto the outer dial. The Mystic has a rotating disc (where all the numbers are) that sits below the centre dial and it moves clockwise on a 24 hour scale. If it helps you to understand better, the time on the watch is approximately 2.07 am/pm.
Combined with a white leather strap and stainless steel case with vertical carvings, this is a statement watch in a colour that would look appropriate on a lady but can also be pulled off by an adventurous gentleman.
It runs on a Swiss Sellita movement SW200, with modifications made by Schaumburg to enable the quirky time display.
The Schaumburg ‘Mystic’ might or might not work for you but what’s undeniable is its originality; and if that’s what you crave for, this is the only watch presented in this article with a local retail presence so feel free to go examine one.
The Schaumburg ‘Mystic’ retails for SGD 1,900 and can be found at Red Army Watches located in Wisma Atria & Millenia Walk.